Dementia doesn’t refer to a single condition, but describes the loss of cognitive function that results in memory impairment, behavioural problems, and so on. It is perhaps one of the most feared risks of aging, as it is most common in the aged population. This however, does not mean that dementia cannot begin earlier in life or that it is inevitable with old age. Dementia is most commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease, as well as conditions like Lewy body dementia,vascular dementia, and frontotemporal disorders. It can also develop as a symptom of Parkinson’s disease in the more advanced stages. While some risk factors are beyond our control, there are steps that you can take to lower the risk of dementia. Your diet has a significant role to play, with balanced diets that primarily include fresh whole foods being beneficial, while those that are high in processed foods tend to increase your dementia risk. In addition to your general diet however, there are certain foods, herbs, and spices that are particularly helpful.
Dementia signs and symptoms
Foods, Herbs & Spices to Fight Dementia
With their delightful flavour and natural sweetness, berries are among the most popular of all fruits. They’re also among the healthiest, not just because of their high nutritional density, but also because of their rich antioxidant content. Berries are thought to have some of the highest levels of antioxidants, notably the flavonoid anthocyanin. This is believed to be the main source of the fruit’s health benefits. As oxidative stress is a major contributor to the aging process (including that of the brain), berries can offer some protection. Several studies have shown that regular intake of berries like blueberries and strawberries can slow cognitive decline and improve brain function.
- Fish and Nuts
Both fish and nuts are widely used in the Mediterranean diet, which is regarded as one of the healthiest not just for the heart, but also for your brain. There’s a reason why both of these foods are beneficial for brain function, enhancing protection against dementia. They are great sources of healthy fats like omega 3 fatty acids. Fatty fish like salmon and nuts like almonds should be included in any diet to lower the risk of conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Studies suggest that healthy fats from these foods can slow progression of degenerative brain disease and improve cognitive function, as well as memory recall.
Once regarded as an exotic spice of the East, cinnamon is now the 2nd most popular spice in the US. It’s widely used in popular foods and beverages from cinnamon buns to cinnamon lattes. If you’re not already using cinnamon in your foods, you should consider using it now to protect against dementia. Although more research is needed, some studies indicate that cinnamon intake can protect against memory loss and cognitive impairment. Research published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that cinnamon may protect brain mitochondria against the risk of brain disease associated with high fat and high fructose diets.
Turmeric has a long history of use in Ayurveda and is notable for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Its various benefits have been linked to the herb’s main bioactive compound, curcumin. Researchers have also been interested in other therapeutic applications because of possible neuroprotective effects that can help treat or prevent neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Although more clinical studies are needed, reviews of existing research support the idea that curcumin could lower the risk of Alzheimer’s by inhibiting Amyloid Toxicity in the brain. Curcumin may also lower the risk of degenerative brain disease because of its protective effects against oxidative damage and inflammation.
One of the most important herbs in the traditional Indian medicine of Ayurveda, Ashwagandha has become increasingly popular around the world in recent years. Ayurvedic practitioners regard the herb as a revitalizer or rejuvenant that can be used to treat a wide range of health conditions from male sexual dysfunction to diabetes. While there’s limited scientific poof for many of these claims, there is growing evidence that the herb may be neuroprotective and could help in the management of neurodegenerative conditions. Although the precise mechanism of action is not understood, findings indicate that ashwagandha can restrict neuron loss and may even help in the treatment of traumatic brain injury.
While these are 5 of the most notable foods, herbs, and spices to protect against dementia, there are other natural treatments that could help. Herbs like gotu kola, ginseng, and gingko biloba may also offer protection, but research on dosages still remains inadequate. As mentioned earlier, your overall diet is perhaps more important than the inclusion of specific foods. However, you should make it a point to restrict your intake of red meat, processed foods, fried foods, and sweets, as they are associated with inflammatory responses that increase the risk of dementia.